Air Canada is pausing operations of its low-cost subsidiary Rouge as of 08FEB due to new travel restrictions imposed by the federal government last week as a way to reduce importation of new variants of the coronavirus.
“As a result of our suspension of all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico at the request of the Canadian government, we are again pausing our Rouge operations effective Feb 8 as these flights are primarily operated by Rouge,” the Canadian airline said in a statement sent to the media.
Approximately 80 employees will be laid off after the final flight.
Air Canada Rouge had already suspended operations last year due to the pandemic as it mostly serves vacation destinations, but restarted in November ahead of the winter travel season.
Professor Fred Lazar of the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto told the CBC that he is not surprised by the announcement, but disappointed by government rules that have "systematically reined in every way the airlines have come up with to stay in business through the pandemic."
Lazar thinks that the government is unfairly targetting travel to deflect attention from Canada's slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
"There is no real logic to what they are doing," he said. "They are doing it to cater to the vast majority of Canadians that have a holier than thou attitude toward travel."
Lazar believes that Canada's airline industry is running out of options and their only hope is that the European market opens up by the spring.
"Otherwise they're out of operation pretty much for the rest of the year," he said.
Mark Stachiew Editor
Mark Stachiew is a Montreal-based travel journalist who's been exploring and writing about the world for more than 30 years. When he's not travelling somewhere or grappling with words on a page, he curates his own collection of travel gear.